Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Few Great Beers to Pair with Thanksgiving Dinner

Written by  Ryan Ranspach
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A Few Great Beers to Pair with Thanksgiving Dinner

In just a few short days, most of us will embark on one of the quintessential events of the American experience: heading home for a 2-3 day death-march of way too much food, family, and football. Yes, it's Thanksgiving, the time to remember how thankful we are for our family, and that we don't live with them every other day of the year as well. As far as the food, Thanksgiving dinners can either be delicious and savory or poorly seasoned and boring--there seems to rarely be an in-between.

However the dinner is where you're going, you're likely going to need (we strongly encourage it, anyway) a few beers to help you survive, especially while watching the Lions. So, we thought we would put together a beer drinking guide to Thanksgiving, a couple beers to sip on throughout the day and then a few to go with each of courses in the traditional Thanksgiving meal. We hope you find it useful and wish you safe and happy travels wherever you're headed this week.
Atwater Brewing Company - Grand Circus IPAThe Starter Beers
First, you'll need a beer to drink throughout the day while the football games are on and snacks are being served. You will need something drinkable but that won't have you passed out next to Uncle Walter's magical armchair before dinner either. We also know what you'll be dealing with during this time--The Detroit Lions. Yes, it's been another season of failed opportunities and "moral victories" for our lovable losers, so if you hit the strong stuff early, we won't blame you, but just remember that it will be a long day. Anyway, we recommend opening a few cans of Grand Circus IPA from Atwater Brewery in Detroit. This is a delicious pale ale with a relatively mild alcohol content (5.5%) and a strong, hoppy flavor. It will go well with most all snack foods and is a lighter beer that is big on flavor, perfect for early sipping on a long day. Another great option for this would be Anglers Ale by Arcadia Ales, this is another fairly light but delicious Michigan pale ale that pairs well with pretty much all foods and situations.

At some point, maybe at halftime, maybe after the first game, it will be time to dive into dinner. Course after course of food we don't necessarily like but feel compelled to eat in the spirit of the day will be brought out and laid before us. We think that the following few beers will go well with some of these dishes. Moist turkey or dry, fresh cranberries or canned, these beers will do right by you!

Other Examples: Millking It: Axl Pale AleBrewery Vivant:  Farm Hand, Frankenmuth Brewery: Hefeweizen & Many More. 

Short's Brewing Company - Noble Chaos Pair with the Turkey

For the turkey, a malty Oktoberfest beer would do nicely to marry with the buttery and (hopefully) savory flavors from the herbs used. If you go this route, we highly recommend Short's Brewing Company's eclectic Noble Chaos Oktoberfest. It is a traditional Marzen-style beer brewed in March and released in September. If you can still procure some of this from your local specialty beer store, you are buying what I think is the best Oktoberfest beer available in Michigan, and it will pair deliciously with that beautiful holiday bird. A different yet appropriate direction you could go would be a Belgian Trippel, a rich and complex Belgian style pale ale. An excellent and affordable option for one of these is New Belgium's Trippel. They are a brewery out of Fort Collins, CO and are newcomers to the Michigan market. Their beer is tremendous and again, very affordable.

Other Examples: Millking It: Brik Irish-Style Red Ale, Atwater: BloktoberfestBell's Octoberfest & Many More.

Dark Horse Brewing Company - Boffo BrownPair with the Stuffing & Gravy

For the stuffing and gravy portion of the meal, we think a a rich brown or rye ale would go well here. The caraway seeds typically present in sausage (hopefully found in your stuffing) go nicely with these beers. A great example of this would be the Boffo Brown from Dark Horse Brewing Company, a malty and nutty brown ale that is also very mild and drinkable. Gravy and brown beer. Easy and delicious.

Other Examples: Short's: Good Humans, New Holland Cabin Fever, Bell's Best Brown & Many More

Pair with Potato & Vegetables

For the potato and vegetable course, the sky is really the limit. We would recommend not wasting a big and bold beer on this so go with a light pilsner, The Livery and Frankenmuth Brewing Company both have excellent version of these.

Other Examples: Schmohz Brewery: John T. Pilsner, New Holland: Full Circle, Atwater: Purple Gang Pilsner & Many More.

Jolly Pumpkin - La RojaPair with the Cranberry Sauce

For the cranberry sauce, something few people really like, we suggest the fun and very unique La Roja sour red ale from Jolly Pumpkin. This is a deep and rich sour amber ale that has earthy and dried fruit notes. It should pair well with the tart cranberry sauce and make this course a little more bearable than usual. 

New Holland Brewing Comapny - The Poet Oatmeal StoutPair with the Desserts

When you reach the time for dessert and are all but wiped out from the food, the visiting, and the Lions, reach for a warm and decadent stout or pumpkin beer to pair with your pumpkin or apple pie. A couple we like both come from New Holland Brewing Company. Their Ichabod Pumpkin Ale is arguably the best of its kind in Michigan and their iconic The Poet Oatmeal Stout goes well with any rich dessert. Reach for these at the end of that long day of over-indulgence.

Other Examples: Atwater: Decendent, Founders Breakfest Sout, Arcadia Ales: Loch Down, Dark Horse: Perkulator Coffee Dopplebock & Many More.

We hope this simple guide gives you some help in choosing beers for Thanksgiving. It can be tough with the stress of travelling, cooking, and meshing & managing of all the family personalities. We suggest that you take it slow and realize what the day is really all about, being truly thankful for the all the wonderful people and things in your life, and toasting it all over some good food and beers. So, from our Beerhound family to yours, thanks for supporting us and have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Cheers!

Ryan Ranspach

Ryan Ranspach

Ryan Ranspach writes for several websites including I'm a Beer Hound. Originally from the Detroit area, he now lives with his wife in Lansing. Having a wide range of interests, both work and recreation give him the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Michigan experiencing all the great things the state has to offer. His blog is available here